Purpose: Radiation oncology curriculum development is challenging because of limited numbers of trainees at any single institution. The goal of this project is to implement and evaluate a standardized medical student clerkship curriculum following the multi-institutional cooperative group research model.
Methods: During the 2013 academic year, a standardized curriculum was implemented at 11 academic medical centers consisting of three 1-hour lectures and a hands-on radiation treatment planning workshop. After the curriculum, students completed anonymous evaluations using Likert-type scales (1 = "not at all" to 5 = "extremely") and free responses. Evaluations asked students to rate their comfort, before and after the curriculum, with radiation oncology as a specialty, knowledge of radiotherapy planning methods, and ability to function as a radiation oncology resident. Nonparametric statistical tests were used in the analysis.
Results: Eighty-eight students at 11 academic medical centers completed the curriculum de novo, with a 72.7% (64 of 88) survey response rate. Fifty-seven students (89.1%) reported intent to pursue radiation oncology as their specialty. Median (interquartile range) student ratings of the importance of curricular content were as follows: overview, 4 (4-5); radiation biology/physics, 5 (4-5); practical aspects/emergencies, 5 (4-5); and planning workshop, 4 (4-5). Students reported that the curriculum helped them better understand radiation oncology as a specialty (5 [4-5]), increased specialty decision comfort (4 [3-5]), and would help the transition to radiation oncology residency (4 [4-5]). Students rated their specialty decision comfort significantly higher after completing the curriculum (4 [4-5] versus 5 [5-5]; P < .001).
Conclusions: A national standardized curriculum was successfully implemented at 11 academic medical centers, providing proof of principle that curriculum development can follow the multi-institutional cooperative group research model.
Keywords: Radiation oncology; curriculum; medical students; undergraduate medical education.
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